Reviewed November 15th, 2001 by Dan Jones
I walked into Best Buy a couple weeks ago with my roommate on his trip to pick up the new Shreck DVD. After perusing the relatively vast Best Buy DVD selection my eyes happened to fall upon a certain DVD case that left me with one of those queasy feelings in the pit of my stomach. One of those, “God I hope no one buys that,” feeling... and now, in something Alanis Morisette would coin as “ironic,” this very DVD lay before me... in my possession... Thumb Wars - The Phantom Cuticle. Yea...
So, now that I’ve bashed this short spoof before even viewing it; I decided I should trade about an hour in total of my life and give it a chance. Do I want my time back? Well, let’s go into that.
Directed by Steve Oedekerk, of Ace Ventura – When Nature Calls’ fame, Thumb Wars gives us thirty minutes of non-stop Star Wars mockery; although do not be fooled, it spreads the whole Star Wars series, not just the Phantom Menace as the title might suggest. Obviously, as was hopefully picked up from my intro paragraph, I went into viewing this movie with no real expectations at all; I expected to laugh for a couple minutes, then just watch the rest drag out. For the most part, I was right. While the short filmette’s quality is very good, the whole idea and humor runs dry after about five minutes of viewing; it never really gets bad, it just never really elicits constant laughs all the way through. Of course, everyone has different tastes; your mileage may vary.
Nevertheless, I must give credit where credit is due. Thumb Wars is masterfully created. The thumbs with digitally inserted facial features are incredibly flawless... definitely not what I went in expecting. I was expecting something more Conan O’Brien-ish... if you know what I’m talking about (the face jumping around, noticeable seams, etc... ). Time was undoubtedly spent here. Kudos to Oedekerk and his thumb team for that.
On the video side, Thumb Wars is presented in the 1.37:1 full screen ratio (in which it was originally presented in). Although I assumed Thumb Wars would have been shot digitally, it was, in fact, shot on film. Considering that piece of information, it was even more surprising to see how well this transfer came over onto DVD. There are truly no artifacting or digital compression problems to be seen. Truly, a solid transfer, especially after considering the budget that went into making this spoof.
As for audio, Thumb Wars has been remixed for its DVD release, given a new more lively 5.1 Dolby Digital track; while also keeping the original 2.0 track. As expected, the 5.1 track does do a much better job then the 2.0 track; but neither are too overly immersive or standout... to be expected though.
For extras, we have a couple nice supplements. We get a full-length commentary track from Oedekerk, which is, in my opinion, even more amusing then the movie. Truly an interesting man... We also get the theatrical trailer for Thumb Wars, plus the upcoming “Thumbtanic,” and “Blair Thumb.” Also included is an amusing interview with Gabba the Butt; worth a watch, somewhat weird. We also get storyboards for the movie. Overall, a nice portion of extras for such a short feature.
Overall, is Thumb Wars worth it? Well, I guess that all depends. If you really like spoofs, really want to buy a cheap DVD, or really love, or for that matter, hate Star Wars, then yea you should probably consider adding this to your DVD collection. If you’re not in this category, then maybe you should pass; watch the trailer maybe and go from there; or perhaps just give it a rent. Thumb Wars has a nice list price of $9.99, meaning you can find it cheaper just about anywhere. The DVD presentation is extremely solid; it’s your brain against mine on whether or not you will like it.
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